Know the Regional Foe: University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Mascot: Blazers
- Abbreviation: UAB
- Founded: 1969
- Enrollment: 17,545
- Location: Birmingham, Alabama
- Facility: Jerry D. Young Memorial Field (1,000 Capacity)
- Conference: Conference USA
- Head Coach: Brian Shoop (139-146, 6th Season)
- Assistant Coaches: Perry Roth, Josh Hopper (Pitching), Ron Polk (Volunteer)
- First Season: 1979
- All-Time Record: 914-867-1 (.513)
- College World Series Appearances: 0
- NCAA Postseason Appearances: 1 ('91, Oklahoma State)
- Record: 32-28 (9-15 Conf. USA)
- Last 10 Games: 5-5
- How they got here: Conference Tournament Champions (defeated Memphis 5-0)
The Blazers had an up-and-down season in 2012, but they played their best ball when it counted most, as they won the 2012 Conference USA Tournament, hosted just down the road in Pearl, Mississippi, and claimed the automatic conference bid into the field of 64. The Blazers are led by former Bulldog assistant Brian Shoop, who coached at State under Ron Polk between 1983 and 1989. Shoop is in his 6th season at the helm of UAB, where he has amassed a 139-146 record so far.
The Blazer coaching staff, as many Bulldog fans know, features the former head baseball coach at MSU himself, Ron Polk. The roster also features some MSU bloodlines, as Patrick Palmeiro, 3B for the Blazers, is former MSU great Rafael Palmeiro's son.
Offensively, the Blazers weren't really led by any one individual player, more of a team effort by several. Those leaders would include Ivan De Jesus, Patrick Palmeiro and Jeff Schalk. De Jesus lead the Blazers in hits on the season with 68, and registered a .297 average while chipping in 23 RBI's. Palmeiro led UAB in RBI's with 34, and also carried a .252 average to go along with a team-leading 5 HR's and 57 hits. Schalk hit at a .280 clip, tallying a .280 average while chipping in 3 HR's, 60 hits and 30 walks on the campaign.
Pitching wise, the Blazers were powered by a trio of starters: Ben Bullard, Michael Busby, and Dillon Napoleon. Each of the trio registered 5 wins on the season, and each maintained an ERA under 5. Bullard lead UAB with a 2.96 ERA. Ryan Nance leads the Blazers with 8 saves on the season, while toting along a 3.66 ERA to go with it.
You may recognize the name of Blazer pitcher Michael Busby, and you should. Busby was originally recruited to MSU by Ron Polk, but then departed State, landed at Hinds CC, then signed with UAB out of Hinds. He is a product of Vicksburg, Mississippi's Porter's Chapel School.
You can review all of the statistics for the 2012 UAB Blazers squad here.